Army arrests 10 girls, lets 7 go, Bandipora vents its anger on the streets
30 November 2001
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: The Army arrested 10 girls last night, mostly teenagers, from various villages of Bandipora in north Kashmir on the suspicion of being linked with militants. Seven were declared innocent and released today prompting widespread protests in Bandipora town where hundreds attacked a police station and the office of the ruling National Conference. The Army claimed the girls were picked up on the basis of wireless intercepts. Abdul Qayoom Manhas, SSP Baramulla, said a wireless set had been seized from one of the girls. Sources said jawans of 15 Rashtriya Rifles conducted raids at night at Aham Sharief, Kharpora, Sumblar and Khayar villages in Bandipora tehsil of Baramulla district. In Aham Sharief village, they arrested Ghulam Nabi Lone''s five daughters, including 12-year-old Mahpara and 15-year- old Shahida. In Kharpora, they raided the houses of Ghulam Mohammad Lone and Mohammad Akbar Shah and arrested their daughters, Rifat and Uneesa. At Sumblar, Nasreena, daughter of Mohammad Yousf Shah, was taken into custody. Sisters Tahira and Rafiqa, daughters of Ghulam Hassan Malik, were picked up in Khayar. As the news spread in the morning, angry crowds, of mostly women, came out on the streets and stormed Bandipora police station. They tried to set the police station ablaze. Polce used batons and smoke shells and also fired in the air. The mob resorted to stone-pelting and damaged the main gate. It then marched towards the local office of the National Conference '' headed by counter-insurgent-turned-MLC Javid Hussian Shah '' ransacked it and set it on fire. Battles between the protesters and the police continued for most part of the day. Defending the Army action, Col K K Singh of the Kilo Force said the ''Army was already looking for these girls since we have received intercepts regarding their involvement in militancy''. He said three girls were handed over to the police and a wireless set was recovered from them. Singh, however, said they have no information about their affiliation with any particular militant group. A senior police officer, who wished to remain anonymous, said a letter addressed to a ''commander'' of Lashkar- e-Toiba had been seized from one of the girls ''who was operating under the radio code Khalida''.